Saturday, 17 May 2014

Make silage while the sun shines!

Silage making in fine weather
This spell of fine weather across much of the country is enabling farmers to make silage in very good conditions. The process of ensilage consists of preserving green forage crops (in this case grass) under acidic conditions, effectively pickling the crop, ensuring that it remains in a succulent and appetising state.
Silage is fed to cattle and sheep during winter months and is usually preferred by livestock to hay as it is more palatable and of higher food value. Good silage is light brown in colour, has a sharp taste and only a little smell if the lactic acid content is correct. It is a very stable food source and can be kept for years if required, provided that oxygen is restricted from the material.
As many crops are growing in height now, a field that has been cut for silage offers a “new” short hunting area for some species. Mistle thrushes in particular, quickly switch to these harvested fields to hunt for worms, along with Rooks of course. As the grass starts to re-grow Brown Hare will graze the fresh new growth.
Unfortunately, Skylarks are also attracted by the short grass and often choose to nest in these fields. If the gap is 7 weeks or more before the next cut of grass, then they should successfully fledge their brood, however if growing conditions are good for grass, the gap between cuts is often less than this, with disastrous consequences.

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